Spotlight Topic: Molasses

I see comments all over FB that molasses should be avoided in feed. So, today I’m going to dig into that topic a bit!

Why are people scared of molasses? Two common answers are sugar and iron content.

Let’s start with sugar. Molasses is used in baking and it’s sweet. So, it’s no wonder with all the recent talk of NSC that we worry about sugar (sometimes unnecessarily, but that’s another topic). But what if I let you in on a secret?

The molasses in feed is not the same as the molasses you buy in the grocery store.

That’s right, the molasses in feed is not the same molasses you might add to your favorite cookie or cupcake recipe.

There are different types of molasses. Molasses is extracted from sugarcane during the refining processes. This process begins by crushing sugarcane. Once crushed, it can be boiled gently to produce sugarcane syrup, or boiled vigorously to produce raw sugar crystals. The syrup that remains is molasses. This is the kind you buy in the grocery store. If you boil that syrup even more, you get blackstrap molasses. This is what is used in livestock feed. Blackstrap molasses is triple boiled. It’s what is left after the most possible sugar has already been extracted!

There are some pretty big differences between the two. True molasses has a sugar content of about 70%. Blackstrap molasses has a sugar content of about 45% and is a more concentrated source of vitamins and minerals. Yes, one of those is iron, however we also know that iron in a horse’s diet is not as big of a concern as many make it out to be.

In addition, molasses has several benefits, including reducing the dust/particles in feed, and increasing palatability which also makes horses less likely to sort through their feed. I actually intentionally recommend feed with molasses in it for horses that are picky eaters or that get powder supplements; it helps the supplements stick!

One more thing- when molasses is added to feed, it makes up a very small percentage of the feed. When you do the math out, it is not a lot of sugar at all when you look at the big picture. Your horse consumes more sugar from their forage!

So, please don’t be afraid to feed a concentrate simply because it has molasses.

Further Reading:

https://www.ijset.net/journal/993.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827330/

https://ker.com/equinews/using-molasses-horse-feeds/

https://ker.com/equinews/molasses-horse-feeds/

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